Wednesday, November 14 , 2018, 2:06 pm | Fair 72º

 
 
 
 

Cinema in Focus: ‘Renoir’

A study of the impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir and his son Jean as they were both impacted by the alluring Andree

3 Stars — Thought-provoking

In the last years of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s life, his second son, Jean, came home from World War I to convalesce. It was then that the injured lieutenant met Andree Heuschling, the beautiful model who was posing for his father.

Fascinated by the female form, Pierre-Auguste had developed an impressionist mastery in which he created a color-saturated world of sensual sights. But in these final days of his pain-ridden hands and body, wheelchair-bound as much by choice as by pain so he could conserve his energy for painting, Pierre-Auguste was inspired by Andree in a way that brought life not only to himself but to his son Jean as well.

It was Andree who placed the desire within Jean to become a creator of films, a calling that brought him the acclaim that painting had brought to his father. It is this moment in these three artists’ lives that director Gilles Bourdos catches on film in Renoir.

Honoring the impressionist as much by style as by story, Bourdos’ French-language film is itself a work of art. From the convergence of color to the catching of the wind’s effects on the leaves and grass to the posing of Andree, Bourdos appreciates the sensual nature of Pierre-Auguste’s work.

Adapting the novel by the great grandson of Pierre-Auguste, Jacques Renoir, Bourdos catches the transitional moment before Jean married Andree and created his first nine silent films with her as his star. Eventually divorcing her, Jean goes on to become an acclaimed director and writer of more than 40 films.

The ensemble cast focuses primarily on Michel Bouquet as Pierre-Auguste, Christa Theret as Andree and Vincent Rottiers as Jean. Also represented in the film is Coco (Thomas Doret) as Renoir’s youngest son and Gabrielle (Romane Bohringer) as the beloved model who Mrs. Renoir forced to leave the family. But the story revolves primarily around Heuschling and her ambition to be an actress, which drives her to capture Jean to be her filmmaker.

The complexity of the Renoir family is clearly shown as we see the unfaithfulness of Pierre-Auguste. Having already been unfaithful with a former model, he ends his illustrious career focusing his art on the female form. Since his studio is open to his sons, this introduction of his lust to his teenage son Coco as well as his 21-year-old son Jean is confusing to them and impacts their lives in dramatic and destructive ways.

Silent and brooding, Pierre-Auguste provides little guidance to his sons and lives such a self-absorbed life that he claims to only focus on the beauty of life. Purposefully avoiding the world outside his studio, he claims to simply be a cork floating down a stream and takes no responsibility for what occurs. Though his creative artistry is renowned, his avoidance of responsibility leaves his family rudderless in a difficult world.

It is this tale his great-grandson tells, and it is one worth considering as we decide how to express both our appreciation of art and beauty as well as live our lives with integrity and treat our families responsibly.

Discussion:

» The decision to paint the female form had a debilitating effect on Pierre-Auguste’s marriage and family for generations. Do you think this is an unusual effect, or would this be expected from such an artistic focus? Why do you answer as you do?

» As Jean fell in love with Andree, she got him to promise to take the wealth of his father to make her a star in films. This proved to be true in Jean’s first nine films in which Andree was the star, as Jean financed them by selling his father’s paintings. Since Jean eventually became an accomplished director, do you believe Andree was a good or bad influence on him? Why?

» Coco’s fascination with Andree as a young teen was predictable, yet his father did little to protect him. He also allowed Coco to avoid going to school. Why do you think Pierre-Auguste took so little responsibility for his youngest son?

— Cinema in Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church, 1435 Cliff Drive. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com, or follow them on Twitter: @CinemaInFocus. The opinions expressed are their own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >